Opuntia leptocarpa

Mackensen, Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 38: 141, 1911

Holotype; IsotypeIsotype; Herbarium; Herbarium; Herbarium; HerbariumHerbarium; HerbariumPainting (Britton and Rose, v1 1919, plate XXVIII, No. 1 and 2, left); Photograph

What is Opuntia leptocarpa?

Opuntia leptocarpa is a prickly pear cactus that grows in east-central and central TX, and perhaps farther west and south. It grows with O. macrorhiza and O. lindheimeri. Plants are not numerous in most locations.


Stems are ascending, typically less than 30(50) cm. Pads are thin and oval, obovate, or elliptic, 10 to 20(25) cm long. Spines may be tan (or cream-yellow) darkening to brown or red-brown at the base, 20-30 mm long. Older cladodes may lack spines altogether.

Flower buds are thin and have rust-colored glochids. Anthers are yellow and filaments are yellow-white or white. The stigmas are pale white, yellow, or green. Tepals are gold-yellow or canary yellow. Inner tepals typically have at least a small amount of reddish pigment at their bases. As the name implies, the pericarp and the fruit may be long and slender. 

Some botanists suggest this taxon is same as O. pyrocarpa, but it seems to form smaller plants. Britton and Rose described O. leptocarpa as a possible hybrid of O. macrorhiza and O. lindheimeri. “See the original description.

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